We’ve all heard and maybe even used the quote “bad things come in threes” at some point. 

Debbie Panecki (Love for Debbie Panecki)

It appears to be a folk superstition with no real basis but it remains a strong modern belief.   On Saturday I posted something on Facebook about that after learning of three deaths in a span of just over four hours that impacted me and many others.

Debbie Panecki of Beachwood was the subject of my Hometown View just a few days ago.  She had collapsed in her classroom at Toms River Intermediate East in mid-January and never recovered before passing away Saturday morning, leaving her husband and four sons.

Only a couple of hours before learning of that I was notified that a former co-worker had died.  John Furno was our Sales Manager here for several years and then left to work at Press Broadcasting.  John had his share of medical issues over the years but his passing was unexpected and shocking to those of us who worked with him and admired him as a leader and friend.

It is the death of Francis Duddy that has left so many with an empty feeling and a sorrow that won’t soon disappear.  The 19-year old is among the eight children of Dan and Maura Duddy of Toms River and he was killed in an auto accident early Saturday morning.  Francis was a passenger in a car driven by his close friend Conor Hanifin, who at least report was in critical condition at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

The two graduated from Monsignor Donovan High School last June and were members of the Griffins football team although Francis’ best sport was lacrosse.  His death is an agonizing one and the Duddy’s grief is shared by not only their family and friends but the entire St. Joseph’s and Donovan community.

Francis Duddy, a 2013 Monsignor Donovan graduate and former standout in football, wrestling and lacrosse for the Griffins, died in a one-car crash early Saturday morning. (Photo by Sport Shots WLB)

I have spent a good part of the weekend thinking about Dan, who is the Griffins football coach and Pastoral Minister for Athletics…he has been a good friend for more than 30 years.  His belief and faith will be a source of strength for not only his family but others and during a candlelight vigil last night he spoke about his son and then lead everyone in a prayer for Conor.  As someone who was there told me, “truly inspiring in the face of unspeakable tragedy.”


Wanting to end this morning on a more positive note: a record $260,000 was raised for the Joan Dancy and People with ALS Foundation from Saturday’s 8th Annual Valentine’s Plunge in the Atlantic Ocean off of Manasquan.  Special praise to one team “The Wall” which raised over $15,000 in memory of Robert Penkethman and Patricia Sprengel who both died of what’s commonly called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

"The Wall" team who plunged in the name of the Penkethman/Sprengel Families at the Valentine's Plunge (Kevin Williams, Townsquare Media NJ)